Monday, January 6, 2014

Who won WWII?

Who won WWII ?

I always thought that the Allies did.  Now I'm not too sure.

The soviet army did their share in the battle.  They regained more ground than the Allied did in the West.  And they did it alone.  No direct help from the free world.

Have a look at this series of documentaries.   It was made by the russians for the russian tv.  It gives another perspective from what we usually receive as information on our part of the world.

Not that I support communism or the soviets.  Far from it.  But when I see facts, I see facts.  Have a look for yourself.  And it gives a lot of strategy insight.



Monday, August 26, 2013

From Goths to Genghis: how the little guy Wins

By George Jonas - National Post.

What's unexpected in ou historic quest for better ways to kill our enemies is that improving martial technology doesn't necessarily lead to commensurate success on the battlefield.  Advances in weaponry, tactics, strategy and military organization don't invariably produce more effective warriors.

From antiquity to our own times, there have been recurring examples of nomads, barbarians, or indeed "savages" successfully raiding more highly deveoped civilizations, or defending their ancestral territories against the advances of technologically superior enemies.  From the nomadic Medes teaching the arrogant Assyrians a lesson in 7th century B.C. to the barbaric Visigoths troucing the far more sophisticated Romans nearly a thousand years later, examples of low-tech troops getting the better of high-tech troops abound in military conflict.

In Afghanistan, a high-tech Western coalition has been batting the low-tech Taliban for a decade.  How are we doing?  Not well.  Hirsute warriors riding mules around the peaks and valleys of the Amu Darya have held out four years longer against the combined forces of America and Europe than the Axes of the Third Reich and the Empire of the Rising Sun did against the Allies in the last century.

Well, aren't the Talibans religious fanatics?  Yes, they are, but that doesn't explain much.  The Nazis were pretty fanatical, too, to say nothing of the Japanese kamikazes.

Others say: No comparison.  We haven't the effort.  We haven't fought the jihadists the way we fought the Nazis.

Precisely.  In asymmetric warfare, the high-tech side almost never does. That's one reason it so often loses.

After doing more damage with a smaller outlay of men and material than any belligerent in the history of warfare, our enemy retains the initiatives.  Ten years ago, he used our jetliners to knock down our buildings; now he uses our legislators, soldiers and security guards to occupy us.  By tweeting a rumour on a social network, he can turn our transportation facilities into armed camps.  Every person stripping at an airport is a triumph for the Talibans.  We may say that jihadists are "on the run" but a foe that hits, withdraws, then regroups to hit again is not on the run.

It's a waging guerilla warfare.

The Huns of Attila or the Mongolian hordes of Genghis were low-tech compared to their roman, Byzantine or medieval European opponents, though nowhere as low-tech as the 19 jihadists who attacked America on 9/11.  If history gave out annual Clio awards named after history's muse, like the film industry hands out Oscars, al-Qaeda's assault on the United-States would win a "Clio" for sheer audacity, in addition to an award for the dubious distinction of senseless evil.

More than anything, what jihadists with box cutters demonstrate is that war is a game of wits.  A ruse in war is worth a hundred bomber squadrons, which it may take a conventional belligerent to penetrate America's air defences to the Pentagon.  The high-tech side in asymmetric warfareoften sends its bravest and most upright sons and daughters to the battlefield; the low-tech side will often send, or self-select, the williest.  The adventage goes to the low-tech side.

We know that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, because Ecclesiastes told us. (Amazingly, he did so in chapter 9:11.)  But even though we know, we rarely adjust our strategies accordingly.  We know, since Napoleon told us, that God is on the side of the big battalions - but what Napoleon didn't tell us (since God didn't tell him) was that God sometimes changes his mind.

We know what that warfare is more of an oart than a science, and that scientific warfare is an oxymoron, in a class with government benefits or military intelligence.  We know it so well that we call it a cliché and feel free to dismiss it.

We do so at our peril. Clichés are accurate observations, stale-dated. Clichés are our ancestors trying to tell us something. A cliché flashing through one’s mind — say, “war’s hell!” — is Uncle Louie or Aunt Matilda watching appalled as we’re headed for the ditch, warning us not to go there.

Our legitimate business in Afghanistan was to demonstrate the high cost of attacking the West. We did that by going there, killing some jihadis, exiling the rest, and installing a government non-hostile to us. The day we finished doing that, our reason for being there ended — and we finished doing that in 2004.

Now it’s 2011. We’re still there — but why? Are we prepared to annex Afghanistan, or at least deny it to the Taliban? If the answer is no, as it clearly is, what are we doing in a war zone? We’ve no business in war zones unless we have war aims and can reasonably expect to carry them out.

And since we’re on the subject, are we prepared to deny Libya to the next Gaddafi? And if the answer is no, why are we noodling around in Libya’s skies? You race at Indianapolis (if you qualify) or get off the track. Or — that’s another choice — look every inch the dangerous fool you are.

Monday, April 8, 2013

What's wrong with North-Korea?

Plainly fools or group-think gone wrong?

The last time North-Korea was whipping they needed money.  Their population was starving and they needed the money and international help to get the food.  The way they went about it?  They menaced to invade South-Korea and all that stuff.  They cried so lound doing the bacon slice on the floor like a child that the International community bought peace and allowed the help to North-Korea.

What does happen when you reward a child for bad behavior?  That's it!  He does it again.

What is it this time?  Starving again? Or the young new impetuous ruler wants to show the world who can piss the farther?  He is young, and when you're young you think you're invincible and strong and that you know it all.  May be he wants to play with his toys?

But what if some or most of the North-Korean army's generals think the same?  What if they fell into a dangerous group-think and they actually think they do have a chance?

What is group-think?  Well go to Wikipedia for the formal definition.  I'll explain it to you with a simple example.  Everyone lived this kind of situation when we were in high-school.  Do you remember this guy or this girl that everybody were making fun of?  Most of you I guess, just like me, thought once why do we do this to this person?  For what reason?  Was it justified?  But nobody did or said anything.  We just went by either doing nothing or joining the group.  That is group-think.

Why do we do that?  The one who breaks the group-think is ostracized from the group.  Therefore there is more pain and negative outcome in re-establishing facts or justice than saying nothing.  Therefore nobody does anything.

So I am sure that, after what?  40 years of military parades, military tests and aggressive sporadic attacks against South-Korea, without any meaningful retaliation, the North-Koreans may thing that they are as strong as they think they are.  And now they are waiting for the faintest reason to officially declare war.  They are eating their own propaganda.

Why don't they just attack unilaterally?  China.  Their allied China wouldn't accept it.  But if they act as if they defend themselves.  Then may be China will just stand aside and let North-Korea have its dance.  Just like all the world nations stood aside from America went it attacked Irak after the 9-11 events.  America felt it was in its right to defend itself and nobody opposed.

We shall see I guess on April 15th.

April 15th is the National feast for North-Korea and they always go out their way to celebrate grandiosely on that day.

They may start the war on that significant date.   

Monday, February 18, 2013

Want to get clever at strategy? Learn poker!

Poker is a game of chance?  Think again.  Can you explain to me why is it the same 15 to 20 people that ends up in the last table in the poker championships?

Is it because they are more lucky than anyone on Earth when it comes to poker games?

Poker is a game of skills and calculation.  And yes there is some luck involved.  But what is truly shuffling the cards is the bluffs.  You can have the best hand at the table.  You can be beaten by an opponent that has merely a pair of 2s if you don't have the nerves to carry his "all in" bluff on that turn.

The bluffs mess with the statistics of the game and blurs the chance factor.

Basically in poker you have to play with the cards you have been dealt with. Isn't it what we also say about life?

Playing with the best advantages you have, bluff, learning about your opponents... Doesn't it sound like the business world to you?  And yet there is no poker game learning in the economics or business schools curriculum.

One academic professor stood out of the shadow.  Charles Nesson of the Harvard Law School.  Nesson believes that learning poker is good for his law students.  That they could use its skills in the court when they'll become lawyers.  That's a start.  But it could go much further.

How about using those skills in negotiating a contract?  In buying a company?  In negotiating trade treaties between two countries?  Or merely negotiating the price on this new car you want to buy?   

You could use poker skills everywhere in your life.  And there is much games theory involved in it I would like to see more economists paying attention to it.

If you want to become a good strategist.  You will have to learn how to play poker.  Settle an account on  and start learning.

But beware!  If you involve money, there is risks of addiction.  Be strong willed and don't fall into that pit.  In fact in poker, just as everything else in life, you should always follow these two basic rules:

1.  Net play with money that you don't have.
2.  Always follow rule number 1.

Have a look at this article for more information.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Grey Eminence

As per Wikipedia.  Its "Grey Eminence" is "a powerful decision-maker or advisor who operates "behind the scenes" or in a non-public or unofficial capacity."

And I wonder?  Is it best to work in bright light in reaching your goals?  And therefore being prone of being criticized and openly opposed?  Thus slowing you down.  Or is it better to work below the radar?  Work behind the curtain?

Working behind the curtain has its value.  You can plot.  Organize and prepare without the opponent suspicion.  This brings you an adventage when the project will go full blast in the day light.  The opponent will have to play catch up instead of plain opposition.  And if you plan well, you would have planned the opponent's opposing arguments and moves before hand.  Thus neutralizing its effect before its strength catch up.

There must be another kind of satisfaction also.  Seeing that things are going your way and nobody really notice why or care to.  To them, it just happens.  It give you a clear view as well.  Without direct opposition you can devote your energy in proactivity instead of reactivity.  this gives you another edge.

But this also gives you the reputation of someone plotting and untrustworthy.  That is... if people discover that you are behind all this.  

And of course I am not talking about plotting against someone or to do arm and all.  So with that in mind.  Your reputation would be safe.

I've read somewhere that, when every you evolve or get better at anything.  People surrounding you (as surprising as it may sound) will try to subjugate you.  Seeing you go forward disturbs them.  They see their own leniency and laziness to their own face and its a disturbing thought.  So they try to bring you back down to their level.  

They don't do that to be bad or mischievous. They barely are aware of what they are doing and why. So why bother unnecessary opposition?  This is energy you can allocate somewhere else more effectively.

The idea is not to hide everything to everyone.  If you do you miss the point.  The idea is to avoid unnecessary criticism.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Burn the ships!

Click here
What is it that holds you off all the time?

I know there is something you long to do.  But always managed to postpone.  Loosing weight; finding the girl of your life (aka approaching and flirting); starting a business; leaving your spouse (yes yes... lets be honest that is one of the things some have in mind).  Is it writing a book?  Go back to school?  Changing job?

The list can go on for ever here.

The reason for not taking action.  THAT is the thing one must focus on.  In the short term, the rest is just fog.

For example lets say you want to loose weight.  A millions things goes into your mind:  I cannot start this week because its the holidays... then next week I will allow myself to cheat because its Ben's wedding... Ho!  What the hell... just this once...  And so on...

That is all babbles.  There is a reason underneath all that which prevents you from really taking action.  Are you afraid of not being able to complete?  Thus never starting.  Are you afraid of what the other people will say?  Are you afraid to loose some friends and loved ones for what ever reason?  In other words, what is the true reason that prevents you from taking action.

Then its on that reason you must focus.

How do you deal with it?  Burn the ships!

When Cortez arrived into Mexico, he wanted the gold that the Aztecs had.  But his soldiers where not convinced.  All reasons were good.  Some caught unknown fevers so were afraid to go forward in this foreign land.  The Aztecs were thousands and the Spanish were just a few hundreds.  All reasons were good and most wanted to go back to Europe.  So Cortez ordered to put fire to the ships.  Thus cutting all possible hope of retreat back to Spain.

The soldiers' only choice was then to go forward... and win!  They simply were cut of any other choice.

Just do the same in your life.  Cut your ships.  And make sure you have no choice other than undertake what ever your were procrastinating about and win!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

On clever oppositions

Click here

I love to see two opponents clash when they arrives at diametrically opposed interests.

Obama against Romney.  Kasparov against Big Blue (I know its a machine but it was never the less a protagonist).  Raphael Nadal against  Roger Federer... And even fictional characters:  Superman against Lex Luthor.  Sherlock Holmes against James Moriarty.  And so on...

There is something in conflict that brings us forward.  We have to surpass ourselves when we meet an opponent that is at "our level".  And this accomplishment leaves something that makes us better.  Without it.  Our progression would be much slower.

Karl Marx said that every theses brings its antitheses and the collision between the two brings a syntheses...

So never refuse a good fight.  Praise it.  Of course don't fall into it with both eyes closed and without respecting any rules of strategy.  But never turn your back.  Its a way to guage yourself.  See where you are at.  Learn from this and improve.